Confession: the real reason, the primary one, that I want to mention these books here at Hope Is the Word is because I am completely taken with Melissa Sweet‘s illustrations. Her illustrations alone would make these books worth a second glance in my opinion. However, when you combine Sweet’s detailed and beautiful collage-style illustrations to Jen Bryant‘s storytelling, what you have then is a very winning combo of story and pictures and the perfect way to introduce elementary aged children (well, anyone, really) to an artist and poet they might otherwise not learn about until much later.
A Splash of Red is the life story of Horace Pippin, an American folk artist whose life and art were hidden in obscurity until the artist N.C. Wyeth brought it to light. (Visit the book’s website to learn more about Horace Pippin.) What I really appreciate about Pippin’s life as communicated by this fabulous book is how he persevered in his art even after a war injury could’ve sidelined him permanently. This is such an interesting, inspirational, and beautifully rendered story, certainly worthy of the 2014 Schneider Family Book Award and the Sibert honor it received. Highly Recommended. (Alfred A. Knopf, 2013)
Art and poetry are two of my favorite things, so I was completely tickled to bring home another Bryant/ Sweet book from the library, this one a 2009 Caldecott honor-winning picture book biography of the poet William Carlos Williams. A River of Words relates the life of Willie Williams, the young dreamer who spent hours outdoors just listening to the rhythm and cadences of the Passaic River tumbling over rocks and ultimately cascading in a waterfall. Although he loved poetry, Williams ultimately became a doctor because “no one paid much money for poetry.” Of course, the urge to write was so strong in Williams that he often jotted down his thoughts on his prescription pad and wrote poetry late into the night. My girls were familiar with Williams’ poetry, specifically his poem “This Is Just To Say” thanks to Gail Carson Levine’s inspired-by collection, Forgive Me, I MeanTo Do It which we had read before during a poetry tea time. Both of these Bryant/Sweet books made a great addition to last week’s tea time, and I give them both a Highly Recommended. (Eerdmans, 2008)
I shall certainly have my eyes peeled for more books by this dynamic duo!
It has been two weeks since I last wrote an Odds & Ends post, and the two weeks are bookended by birthdays–my 40th and Steady Eddie’s 39th, which is tomorrow. As always, it has been a jam-packed fortnight, with multiple birthday celebrations, travel, school, etc. Here are the highlights:
I picked out this canister set for my birthday. It reminds me of Owl Babies, which is one of my favorite board books. I tell the DLM this is the Owl Mother, Sarah, Percy, and Bill. :-)
- For my 40th birthday, Steady Eddie planned a birthday weekend extravaganza, beginning with a Steven Curtis Chapman concert on Thursday night. I enjoyed it so much! I had never seen SCC in concert, and despite the fact that this one was interrupted by a tornado warning which forced us to evacuate the sanctuary of the church, it was a great night.
- Steady Eddie, Benny, and I got out of town my birthday weekend for a few days. We went to Franklin, TN, where we shopped, ate, and generally just spent time together and tried to let go of some of the stress we’ve been living under lately. We particularly enjoyed lunch at Merridee’s Breadbasket and supper at Puckett’s Grocery in Franklin.
- I was awakened by my children with breakfast in bed on my actual birthday, which was Sunday, February 23. On the menu: old fashioned oatmeal made with almond milk and with peanut butter and jelly stirred in, strawberries, and a tall glass of ice water. :-) We attended church with my parents and then left there for an afternoon and evening in Huntsville, where we visited the botanical garden and attended a Fantasy Playhouse Children’s Theater production of The Great Cross-Country Race. It was delightful!
- We took the day off of school on Monday, Feb. 24, so I could buy groceries and recuperate a bit from our busy, busy weekend.
- As far as school goes, it has been business-as-usual, more or less, with the added complication that Benny has given up his mid-morning nap, or at least has begun to postpone it until around lunchtime. Morning lessons have been rather difficult for several weeks now. ;-) We’re making progress, though:
- We did Circle Time six times over the past two weeks. I’ve moved it back to its original time-slot, first thing in the morning right after the girls eat breakfast, do chores, practice piano (1/2 of their total daily practice time usually), and do their CBS lesson. I think we’re going to work on our February Circle Time plan for another week or so–we could use another week of review on our hymn, and Lulu is still working on “Ozymandias.” Of course, the Bible passage and history passage we’ll be working on for a while yet. ;-) I’d like to come up with some special Easter/Resurrection Sunday memory work. Ideas, anyone?
- We’ve plugged along faithfully with math, even through some real moments of frustration for our resident second grader. Subtraction is hard! Thankfully, though, I learned a thing or two on my first
child student guinea pig, so I know to keep gently chipping away at it and understanding will finally come–hence, the sign above, when Louise was able to finish a problem by herself. She has worked lessons 83-91 in RS C, and we managed to play a game five days the past two weeks. The first week I let her pick which game she wanted to play to hopefully alleviate some of her frustration over subtraction, and she invariably chose Money War. :-) This past week we mostly played Difference of Two Digit Numbers to work on her mental math skills. RightStart Math games are genius in my book!
- Lulu’s math has been a review and furthering of her multiplication skills and then some area work. Much of her with area has involved actually building and measuring things–figuring the area of our hallway, building a square meter, etc. Louise has completed lessons 37-42 in RS D. She has also been working through Beast Academy 3B, which has been considerably easier for her than 3A was. (She’s working a grade level behind for fun practice/review/shoring up weak areas.) I’ve been giving her an assignment at the beginning of the week and allowing her a bit of independence to decide how much of it she wants to do at a time. For games, we’ve played One-Half, a Beast Academy game called Block Blob, Percentage Memory, and a game called Contig (which I also played with Louise) from Let’s Play Math.
- Louise has been without a spelling book for a couple of weeks now because I finally gave in to the fact that Rod & Staff 2 was just too easy for her. She has a brand new copy of Rod & Staff 3 waiting on her tomorrow. :-)
- Lulu has completed two lessons in Rod & Staff spelling 4, but I have a hard time remembering to give her a test. In a fact, I’ve just about gotten to the point of quizzing her orally and calling it good.
- Each week both girls did three days’ worth of lessons from their respective WWE books. In fact, I’m beginning to see that it might be time to move beyond this more artificial approach to writing and just write from our own readings, especially for Lulu.
- Lulu wrote two good, solid two paragraph narrations from her history readings. That sounds so easy when I type it, but really, quite a lot goes into this–I offer suggestions, we talk about more details she can add, we rearrange sentence order, we talk about topic sentences, she writes her final copy, etc. I have to say that it’s gratifying to reach this point when all the work we’ve done begins to pay off. :-)
- No science to speak of has happened these past two weeks, unless you count incidental discussions about twigs and tree growth at the botanical garden. :-) I’m trying to be okay with that. However, I’ve also instructed the girls to pick out some science topics they’re interested in, and we’re going to work on some written reports/narrations this week. Lulu’s chosen topic is whales and Louise’s is spiders.
- The girls worked hard the past couple of weeks on a piano duet for the Music Olympics, which are sponsored by the local piano teachers’ organization and were held this past Saturday. In addition to the duet, Lulu played a solo. Both their duet and Lulu’s solo were chosen for the afternoon honors recital!
- Lulu finished her crib quilt this week (with a tiny bit of Mamaw’s help) in preparation for entering it in a quilt competition at 4H this coming week.
- This past Thursday we attended a pre-show school day performance of King Midas and the Touch of Gold by our local children’s theater group. Several of our friends were in it. After the play, we went with a group of homeschool buddies to a new pizza place and had a great time eating some delicious pizza (Hawaiian for the moms–capicola ham, grilled pineapple, and jalapeños–YUMMY!) and visiting. I’m very thankful for our friends.
Coconut pie my dear MIL made me for my birthday. Yummy!
- We had one poetry tea time over the past two weeks. Everyone loves this, especially the DLM, so I really should make it a point to do it weekly.
Poetry tea time resources of the week
- We finished The Black Cauldron and started The Saturdays for our chapter book read-aloud.
- I gave up on trying to do it all a long time ago, but sometimes we have to have a little help anyway. :-) This past week help came in the form of a friend who came over to clean our house while we were gone to CBS. :-)
- It seems like no sooner do I begin to sort of get a handle on schooling two girls, keeping a chatty three year old busy and engaged, and wrangling a baby, someone hits a new developmental phase and it’s back to the drawing board. By lunchtime Friday of this past week, I was d.o.n.e. and the sun was shining beautifully, so I threw the lesson plan book out the window, we hit the Chick-Fil-A drive through for lunch, and we headed to the park for some vitamin D. It turns out that a group of homeschoolers were there (surprise, surprise!), some of which we knew and others which we met. It turned out to be a great afternoon.
- The girls finished up Upward Basketball with a fun night/awards ceremony last week. It’s a great program, but we’re always glad to have our Saturdays back when it’s over.
- We attended CBS and Louise attended her art class. We’re trying to grow in our primary and junior classes (homeschool classes) at CBS, so I’ve been busy recruiting. :-) So far I think we’ve added one new family for next year. Yippee!!
- We’re making progress all the way around, but I’m honestly ready for a break. I feel like it’s time to make some decisions for next year, and indeed, I will have to in the next couple of months so I can reserve our places in co-op or what-have-you if that’s the route we’re going to go. I’m tired. :-)
- I’m not reading much these days. I’m moving through Gone with the Wind at a snail’s pace.
- I’m dreaming about art journaling. :-)
What have you been up to?
One of my favorite things in the world is children’s books illustrations. (I think I could decorate my house in them!) What’s Your Favorite Animal? is especially fun to me because it offers the reader an opportunity to see various authors’ and illustrators’ styles alongside each other. It is a smorgasbord of fun answers to the titular question, all written and illustrated by Eric Carle and a baker’s dozen other famous children’s authors/illustrators: Nick Bruel, Lucy Cousins, Susan Jeffers, Steven Kellogg, Jon Klassen, Tom Lichtenheld, Peter McCarty, Chris Raschka, Peter Sís, Lane Smith, Erin Stead, Rosemary Wells, and Mo Willems. The authors’ responses vary from personal stories (Carle had a stringbean stealing cat!) to poetic (Lichtenheld offers a humorous poem about giraffes) to fantastical (Willems loves the Amazonian Neotropical Lower River Tink Tink). My personal favorites are Erin Stead’s penguins (because I love her illustrations just a little bit ) and Lane Smith’s elephant complete with top hat and toothy grin. Think of this as a fun conversation with some of your favorite authors/illustrators. A bonus is that all royalties from the book are donated to The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts, a place I surely must visit before I die! Highly Recommended. (Henry Holt, 2014)
she’ll first feel the need to review the story upon which the play is based. (This is but one reason I like to have an extensive home library–one never knows when inspiration will strike! It makes the piles and piles and piles and piles of books worth it!)
This is perhaps not the best picture, but I take this little oases of sibling companionship when I can get them. ;-)